Multi-scale spatio-temporal patchiness of macrozoobenthos in the Sacca di Goro lagoon (Po River Delta, Italy)


1 - In this study, the macrobenthos from different habitats in the Sacca di Goro lagoon (Po River Delta, Italy) is analysed by following a multi-scale spatio-temporal approach, with the aim of evaluating the spatial patchiness and stability of macroinvertebrate assemblages in the lagoon. The scale similarity is examined by using a taxonomic metrics based on the Kullback-Leibler divergence and a related index of similarity.
2 - Data were collected monthly during one year in four dominant habitat types, which were classified on the basis of main physiognomic traits (type of vegetation and anthropogenic impact). Three of the selected habitats were natural (macroalgal beds, bare sediment and Phragmitetum) and one anthropogenically modified (the licensed area for Manila clam farming). Each habitat was sampled in a variable number of stations representative of specific microhabitats, with three replicates each.
3 - Of the 47 taxa identified, only few species were found exclusively in one habitat type, with low densities. No taxon was dominant in all the considered habitats.
4 - The results show that, in spite of the large overlapping of species, the spatio-temporal dissimilarity within each habitat type was higher than expected on the basis of the common physiognomic traits. This suggests that local factors (mainly hydrodynamism, quality and quantity of vegetal matter) play a significant role in determining the structure of the macroinvertebrate assemblages.
5 - The dissimilarity between habitats was significant and maintained all over the seasonal progression, indicating that the macroinvertebrate assemblages were steadily different. Each habitat allowed some specific taxa to maintain a significant population size, which is a prerequisite for preserving biodiversity.
6 - The variety of vegetation types and hydrodynamic conditions in the lagoon emerges as crucial for sustaining biodiversity and capacity to recover from disturbances.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i1825229Xv7n2p233

Keywords: biodiversity; macrozoobenthos; patchiness; coastal lagoons; Mediterranean Eco-region

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